CURL UP AT PALATE COFFEE BREWERY AND SINK INTO THESE COFFEESHOP-THEMED NOVELS. I CALL IT COFFEESHOP-CEPTION!
Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi
In a back alley in Tokyo, Funiculi Funicula Café has served carefully brewed coffee for over one hundred years. But it has a secret: if you sit in a particular seat, you can travel back in time. As the coffee is poured, you leave the present “in a shimmering steam” and meet those you have previously seen at the coffee shop.
But there are strict rules: you must stay inside the café, your experience cannot change the present, and you must return before your coffee gets cold.
“Several years had passed since the café had its moment of fame in the light of an urban legend that claimed it could transport people back to the past. Uninterested in that kind of thing, Fumiko had allowed it to fade from her memory. Visiting a week ago was complete happenstance…” (1)
Pomegranate Soup by Marsha Mehran
Three Iranian sisters flee to Ballina Croagh, a cozy village in Ireland, where they open Babylon Café. At first, their red lentil soup, abgoosht stew, and rosewater baklava clashes with a community raised on cabbage and Guinness.
But the sisters find support in unlikely allies: a stand-up-comedian-turned-priest, a lonely widow named Estelle Delmonico, and a headstrong hairdresser.
“Estelle watched as Marjan combined the yogurt, mint, salt, pepper, and water in a large pitcher, stirring vigorously until the color became a uniform creamy mint. She added some crushed ice to the pitcher and threw in a garnish of mint to remind Layla of the calming quality found in green leaves…” (2)
The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul by Deborah Rodriguez
Five women living in one of the most dangerous cities on earth find friendship and refuge in a little coffee shop.
Sunny is the proud proprietor who needs a plan—and fast—to keep her customers safe. Yazmina is a young pregnant woman stolen from her village and now abandoned on Kabul’s streets. Candace is a wealthy American who left her husband for her Afghan lover.
Isabel is a determined journalist with a secret that might keep her from the biggest story of her life. And Halajan is a sixty-year-old mother whose long-hidden love affair breaks all societal rules.
“The Kabul Coffee House was jammed with regulars—misfits, missionaries and mercenaries, Afghans and foreigners—and Sunny, as usual, was at the counter. She surveyed her domain, pleased with the business, the buzz, the life that pulsated in the room. This was her very own place, here, in the middle of a war zone, in one of the most dangerous locations on earth. After a lifetime of hard luck and bad choices, finally, at the age of thirty-eight, she’d found a home. Sunny was the center of the café, and she planned never to leave…” (3)
Coffee, Tea or Me by Rich Amooi
Jack Robbins enjoys running his booming coffeeshop until the new business next door, Susie’s tea shop, takes a bite out of his sales.
Susie McKenna’s tea shop is what everyone is talking about. When she has to volunteer alongside Jack at a downtown festival, things really start to percolate. Can a coffee lover and a tea devotee put their competition aside to get their happily ever after?
“[Jack] didn’t consider Susie’s tea shop—or any tea shop, for that matter—competition. They probably served a different kind of tea that required you to extend your pinkie finger outward as you drank it. That wasn’t competition at all…” (4)
Emergency Contact by Mary H. K. Choi
Sam slings lattés and bakes doughnuts at a café in Austin—he lives there too, dozing on a mattress above the shop. Although he’s certain this setup will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director, the seventeen bucks in his checking account is really testing him.
Then he meets Penny Lee. They swap numbers and via text become digitally inseparable. Over time, they share their deepest anxieties without the weirdness of having to…you know…actually see each other.
“[Sam] wiped up a bright fuchsia dribble of icing with his left hand and continued dipping the remaining three donuts with his right. He was pleased with the results. Some guys wouldn’t call baking or the ability to make a Pikachu foam cappuccino topper particularly manly pursuits, but Sam wasn’t just any guy…” (5)
HAPPY READING, EVERYONE!
1 Toshikazu Kawaguchi, Before the Coffee Gets Cold, Picador, 2019, pg. 9
2 Marsha Mehran, Pomegranate Soup, Random House, 2016, pg. 64
3 Deborah Rodriguez, The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul, Ballantine Books, 2012, pg. 6
4 Rich Amooi, Coffee, Tea or Me, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016, pg. 5
5 Mary H. K. Choi, Emergency Contact, Simon & Schuster, 2019, pg. 17